Four strands

As I was listening to a podcast about learning Chinese last weekend (that’s a story for another day), I got reminded of Paul Nation’s famous principles, or as he called them, ‘the four strands’. For a successful language course, you need to have comprehensible input (yes), meaningful output, focus on form and fluency development, and the study time given to these strands should be roughly the same. There are two articles on his website, from 1996 and from 2007. The former is written in more accessible language and has a good description of the 4-3-2-1 activity for building fluency, and the latter has quite a bit more evidence to support the importance of strands.

What can I say? From Nation’s perspective, my own attempts to learn yet another language have been woefully inadequate: self-study gives me loads of comprehensible input and focus on form, but I really don’t want to make myself communicate (or even start a diary!).

As for work, it never hurts to look back on your lessons and ask yourself: did I strike a good balance?

One thought on “Four strands

  1. “What can I say? From Nation’s perspective, my own attempts to learn yet another language have been woefully inadequate: self-study gives me loads of comprehensible input and focus on form, but I really don’t want to make myself communicate (or even start a diary!).”
    I think I could have written that about Mandarin too! I’ve been inputting vocab through Memrise and Lingodeer since 2012 (with a couple of years gap in there somewhere), but I still wouldn’t say I’m even A1 because I go round and round in circles with it and never communicate, or even write it down. Everything is completely passive.
    Good luck!
    Sandy

    Like

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